I'm back! Sorry for the break. I just needed to get some thoughts together and to spend a few days relaxing at the beach. Yes, it was nice. Sunburns suck though. And to make up for my break, I'm giving you a long chapter. Now that I'm back, I have a bit of bad news for everyone. Soon, 'Am I...?' will come to an end. I don't know how many chapters there are left, though.

Writing this story has been one of the most fun experiences of my life. I'm sad that I'm ending 'Am I...?' but I feel that it's for the best. There will be no part two to this story. I don't think I would be able to create a part two that could even hold a candle to the original. But I also have some good news as well. My writing will not stop.

I will try to keep posting on the site in the future, but it might take me a little while to create a new story. I'm not going to post single chapter stories that just center on sex. That's not the person I am. I will try to create a new story that I hope you all will enjoy. I have no idea what this story will be, but I'll come up with it.

As for this chapter, it features the Stanford football team. But while the team is real, the names are completely fictional. I don't know a single name of the coaching staff or athletes themselves. Well, after a week of no new posts, I give you Chapter 18 of 'Am I...?'


The feeling of waking up with Leo in my arms is both comforting and romantic. Leo wakes up not long after me and welcomes me with a good morning kiss. Leo and I spend the next twenty minutes not moving, just holding each other. We finally pull ourselves from the bed and have a nice breakfast together.

The next day at school, Leo and I feel a little closer than before, and it really shows. Before every class, he and I have a long hug and kiss before we go our separate ways. It's often accompanied by a few whoops and cheers from other students, which Leo and I both laugh along with.

April arrives, as do the first of the college answers. Along with Stanford, I applied to seven different schools. I come home one day to find a large packet on the mail. I rip it open before I even see which school it's from, or even who it's for, for that matter. I pull out a slip of paper, but I don't even read past the first word: 'Congratulations.'

I see the first answer comes from Virginia Tech, one of my higher choices. While I'm extremely happy about it, I'm still a little bummed to see that Stanford still hasn't given me an answer yet.

A week passes after the first acceptance and I get a five more answers, all of them acceptances from CalTech, Notre Dame, University of Oregon, University of Florida, and UCLA. But the answer from Stanford still eludes me, and the waiting is killing me...

I get to school one morning and give Leo a morning hug and kiss, which has now become routine. "Hey guys." Leo and I look over and see Shawn standing next to us. "More PDA? You guys need to get a room..."

"Shut up..." I say.

"Hey, why isn't Mark with you?" asks Leo.

Shawn grins and reaches into his pocket. He pulls out a small plastic card and holds it up. "Finally after eight months, I, Shawn Leif, am street legal once again!"

"Oh God..." Leo and I both say in fear.

"You actually got it back?" Leo asks. "After they extended the time you wouldn't have your license, I thought you'd never get it back!"

"I'm surprised the courts are letting you drive again!" I say. "The last ticket you got was for you doing sixty-seven in a twenty-five!"

Shawn just shrugs innocently. "Guess they saw that a genius needs to get from place to place and that his best friend was going to kill him if he made him take him to the market for groceries one more time."

"Oh, so you're calling yourself a genius now?" Leo asks.

"Well, I think my intelligence speaks for itself." Shawn reaches into his other pocket and pulls out a few more pieces of paper and hands them to us. "Read all of those."

Leo and I look at the papers and I feel my blood run cold at what I see. All of these are acceptance letters. Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, Brown, Dartmouth, these are some of the top schools in the United States! And Shawn got into all of them!

We look back at Shawn, who has a small smile on his face. "What the fuck?!" Leo screams.

"Are you fucking serious?!" I tell.

"Yup," Shawn coolly says. "I couldn't believe it either. I was just hoping that one of them would say yes, but all eight said yes! The Ivy League wants me! Six of them are offering me full scholarships too! Fuck! This has been my dream since I was six years old. And now..."

Shawn wipes his eyes with the back of his hand, which makes Leo and I pull him into a hard hug. "We're proud of you Shawn," says Leo.

"We really are," I say. "We both know how much you've wanted the Ivy League. We couldn't be happier for you."

Shawn hugs us back and pulls himself from our grasp. "So, where is Mark?" I ask.

There's a sudden loud screech and we look to the front of the parking lot. Coming in at full speed is Mark's Mustang, the tires spinning so fast there's actually smoke coming off of them. The car blasts through the parking lot and whizzes by me, Leo, and Shawn, driving toward the still open parking spots.

The car fishtails and does several donuts, creating a black circle in the pavement. It slows down and casually pulls into a spot next to Leo's motorcycle. Mark climbs out and howls a booming war cry toward the sky.

His breath runs out and he looks at us and grins. "Um...good morning?" I gingerly say.

"Hell yeah it is!" Mark yells.

"And why the extremely high levels of adrenaline and testosterone?" asks Leo.

Mark grins again and reaches behind to his back pocket and pulls out a piece of paper and hands it to us. We look it over and grin ourselves. "USC?!" yells Shawn.

"Full fucking ride!" Mark yells back. "I got the scholarship! I'm going to USC!"

He pulls all three of us into a hug and, with the extra adrenaline and testosterone coursing through his veins, lifts us all up! He sets us back down after a second, breathing hard and laughing a bit. We have no time to react before Shawn, Leo, and I are rammed from behind by a body. "Hey guys!" says Brian.

We turn around to see our smaller friend. I see the paper in his hand and smile. "You too?" I ask.

Brian grins and unfolds the crumpled piece of paper. "Berklee College of Music!"

"Isn't that one of the top music colleges in the country?" asks Mark.

"Yeah!" Brian excitedly replies. "Good God, this is fucking amazing! I'm going to the school of my dreams!"

The tallest of our group finally arrives and is welcomed by a tight hug from Brian. "So I take it you told them?" Justin asks Brian.

"Yup!" Brian stands as tall as he can and plants a kiss on Justin's lips. "What about you? Is there any good news for you?"

Justin reaches into his pocket and pulls out a slip of paper (which I guess is a thing that our group came up with when I wasn't around). "I only applied to one school," Justin tells us.

"One?" says Shawn. "Are you that confident in yourself?"

"Not even. There was only one school that fit me perfectly."

"What's the school and what was their answer?" Mark asks, looking impatient.

Justin unravels the sheet of paper and stares at it for a second. "Let's just say I'm going to be very close to Brian when we all head off to college."

Brian's face lights up. "Where?!"

"Four words: Massachusetts. Institute. Of. Technology."

"MIT?!" Brian yells. He jumps up and hooks his arms around the back of Justin's neck. "I'm so happy for you, Justin!"

"You got into MIT?!" says Leo.

"Yeah," says Justin. Brian lets go of Justin and falls back to his feet. "What you guys don't know about me is that sound mixing is one of my hobbies. Along with the poetry I do, I create my own music. So, I'm hoping to become an audio engineering major in college." Justin reaches into his other pocket and pulls out his cell phone. "Listen to this and tell me what you think."

Justin hits play on the screen and a sudden beat comes out of the speakers. The song goes on and as we all listen to it, the more and more I like it. The songs ends and Justin puts his phone back into his pocket. "That was great," says Mark.

"You did all that?" I ask.

"Every bit," Justin replies. "The instruments were artificial, but I managed to put them together into something I'm pretty damn proud of. MIT heard about me and my dad's current situation and gave us thousands of dollars in scholarship money. It's enough to pay for all four years..."

Brian jumps up again and wraps Justin in another hug and gives him kiss after kiss. "Hey guys." We look over and see Danny walking over to us. "Did I miss something?"

"Just college acceptances," says Brian.

Danny's face falls a bit. "At least you guys are going to college," he quietly says.

"You aren't?" asks Shawn.

Danny shakes his head. "I missed a lot of deadlines while I was in prison and even if I did apply to some other colleges, they'd know I attacked Brian and reject me. So...I didn't apply to any..."

The good mood that was going around suddenly stops, all of us feeling really bad for Danny's situation. There's a sudden ringing from Danny's pocket and he pulls out his cell phone. "Hello?" he says.

What I hear come out of Danny's mouth next takes me by surprise. "Ah! Monsieur Achille ! Oui, je suis libre un moment."

Danny's speaking French? Wow, guess there's a lot of things I don't know about my friends. "Attente...ce qui ? Êtes-vous sérieux ? Merci ! Merci tellement ! Vous n'avez aucune idée combien ce signifie à moi ! Quand est-ce que je commence ? 16 septembre ? Ok, obtenu le. Vous payerez mon billet d'avion et resterez ? Merci encore, Monsieur Achille ! Je travaillerai mon plus dur avec vous. Je vous verrai en deus mois. Au revoir."

Danny hangs up his phone and looks back at us, who are all very confused about what just happened. "Sorry about that," Danny says with a bright smile.

"Was that French?" Mark asks.

"No, it was Mandarin," Danny sarcastically says. "And if you're wondering, I was just on the phone with René Achille, one of the leading cooks in cuisine all over Europe. And when September arrives...I'm going to be is apprentice for the next year."

We all rush Danny before he has a chance to brace himself. With six guys crushing him in a giant group hug, he looks like he can't breathe. The bell rings and we all head into school, many of our future's set.

The day goes by slowly and uneventfully. I say goodbye to the guys, give Leo our daily goodbye hug and kiss, and head home. I pull into the driveway after a bit and find it empty. After I'm out of my car, I go straight for the mailbox, hoping to find an answer from Stanford.

My heart's beating a mile a minute as I blindly open the mailbox, grab all the contents without looking, and head inside. I set my bag down next to the kitchen counter and place the mail on the granite countertop. I grab all the envelopes and quickly look through them, and am thankful to find that none of them are from Stanford.

I sort through the rest of the mail, my heart sinking with every piece of mail. Finally, after getting through the magazines, there's only one piece of mail left: a large, crisp, white, package. On the return label is the Stanford insignia.

Sweat instantly starts to break out on my skin and my heart starts beating twice as fast as before. This is the day I've been waiting nine years for, and now I finally get to see whether or not I'll be a Stanford man or not. I slowly rip the package open and pull out the contents. The single piece of paper that sits on top of all the folders is what I'm looking for: the decision letter.

I take the letter and read it over.

'Dear Mr. Rusden. Congratulations. I am very pleased to inform you that you have been accepted into Stanford University for the Fall 2013 Semester, with a full athletic scholarship.'

I don't make it any further than that before the tears of joy start falling from my eyes and drip onto the acceptance letter. As my legs start to become wobbly, I walk over to the couch with my letter and take a seat, letting the tears keep flowing. I hear the front door open. "Hey bud!" I hear Dad call. "Your mom and I are home early!"

"Where are you, sweetie?" Mom calls.

"Living room..." I choke out.

I hear them walk into the living room and stop next to me. "Josh? What's wrong?" asks Dad.

I sniff my nose and look up at them, both of their faces concerned. I hold the letter out to them and watch them look at it. Their faces light up within a second. "Oh my God!" Mom screams. "Sweetie, I'm so proud of you!"

"Thanks Mom," I say, my voice weak.

"But why're you crying?" Dad asks.

I stand up off the couch and hug both Mom and Dad. "I'm just...so freaking happy..." They both hug me back, laughing a bit as they do so. But as I'm hugging my parents, one thought pops into my head that I didn't take into account. "Oh shit..."

Mom and Dad let go and look at me. "What's wrong, sweetie?" asks Mom.

"Um...i-it's about Leo..." I say.

"Uh oh," says Dad. "Are you two in a fight again?"

"No, it's not that. It's just that...when we were talking about college applications late last year, Leo...didn't say he was applying to Stanford..."

Their eyes fill with sympathy as they pull me into another hug. I clutch both of them a little tighter and cry into Dad's shoulder. Leo and I have never been closer than we are now. But in four months, we're going to be apart...

It takes me a few minutes to calm down, but Mom and Dad keep hugging me. "I think I'm okay now..." I tell them

They slowly let go of me. "What're you going to do, sweetie?" asks Mom.

"You're not going to give up the chance to go to Stanford, are you?" asks Dad.

"I would never give up on an opportunity like this," I say. "But...I just don't know what to do. I love Leo more than anything and being apart from him would kill me. But Stanford is offering me a full scholarship." I take a second to wipe my eyes dry. "I-I need to talk to Leo. I need to tell him."

Mom and Dad nod understandingly. I grab my car keys from the counter and walk outside. As I'm about to reach for my phone, it suddenly starts vibrating. The caller ID says Leo's calling me. "H-Hey Leo," I say, still a little shaky.

"Hi Josh. Um...listen. Could you and I meet somewhere? I need to talk to you about something..."

This doesn't sound good...

"Uh...sure," I say. "Where do you want to meet?"

"You know Jefferson Park? It's that children's park that sits on the route between our houses."

"Yeah, I know it. You want to meet there in about ten minutes?"

"Sounds good. I'll meet you there."

I hang up and climb into my car and head to Jefferson Park, feeling a pit already filling my chest.

Once I find a parking spot, I walk into the park and take a seat on a bench and wait for Leo. I watch the families playing with their kids, all of their faces willed with happiness and none of them having a care in the world. "Hey Josh."

Leo's standing next to me, a small smile on his face. I scoot over a bit and let him take a seat. He and I sit in silence for a few minutes, watching the children play and their parents laughing with them. "Leo...we need to talk about what's going to happen to us when we go to college," I say.

"Yeah, that's what I wanted to talk to you about," Leo tells me.

I clench my hands together, feeling tears behind my eyes. "Leo, in the mail today, I...got my answer from Stanford."

Leo places his hand on top of mine. "What did they say?"

My nose sniffs and I look at Leo. "I got it. I'm going to Stanford in the fall. Stanford wants me, Leo."

Leo smiles brightly and hugs me. "Josh, that's great! I'm so happy for you!"

I hug Leo back, but take him by the shoulders after a minute and look him straight in the eyes. "Leo, I really need to talk to you about what's going to happen before the fall." I take a few breaths to compose myself. "I never want to be apart from you, Leo. But I know you didn't apply to Stanford.

"I want us to be together forever, but it's going to be so hard with me being at Stanford and you being somewhere else." The tears come back and slide down my face, but I don't try and wipe them. "So...I'm willing to give up Stanford so I can be with you."

My heart hurts at just the thought of not going to Stanford, and more tears cascade down my cheeks at the thought of it. "I love you so much, Leo. I would give up my dream just so I could be a little closer to you. I just wish there was some way we could still be together when we both start college."

I clench my eyes shut and let my tears fall. I feel something wipe underneath my eyes and see Leo wiping my eyes dry, a smile on his face. "Josh, we can still be together."


Leo reaches into his pocket and pulls out a piece of paper and hands it to me. "I got this in the mail when I got home today. Read it."

Even though my eyes are still a little wet, I look down at the paper and try and read it.

'Dear Mr. Trigon. Congratulations. I am very pleased to inform you that you have been accepted into Stanford University for the Fall 2013 Semester.'

Every prayer I've said the whole way here has been answered. I look at Leo and see he's grinning at me. "Josh, I'm going to college with you. You and I are going to be together at Stanford."

I circle my arms around Leo and hug him, the tightest hug I've ever given him. He hugs me back as I cry into his shoulder. "Why didn't you tell me you applied to Stanford?" I sob out.

"I wanted it to be a surprise," Leo tells me. "I knew you would get in, so I wanted to get in with you. And now, you and I won't be apart."

Just hearing that Leo and I will spend the next four years together at Stanford makes my tears come out harder. "Please tell me I'm not dreaming," I tell Leo.

"If you were dreaming, we'd be seeing George Washington riding on a unicycle, juggling flaming bowling pins, singing 'Ave Maria' while Lady Gaga chases after him in the Batmobile."

I laugh at Leo, still remembering the time I told him about the weirdest dream I'd ever had in my life (hey, we all see our first president doing circus stunts and singing while a famous musician chases him in Batman's car sometimes. I ate pork rinds before I went to bed one night). I lift my head out of Leo's shoulders and look at him. "You have no idea how happy I am right now."

"No, I do. Because I'm twice as happy as you are."

Leo smiles and kisses me softly. "Mommy! Those two boys are kissing!"

We separate and look over and see a small boy, no more than three or four, looking at us. A woman, who I assume is his mother, walks over to him and takes him by the hand. "Sweetie, that's very rude." She looks over at us and smiles. "I'm sorry for him. I don't think he's ever seen two boys kissing before."

"It's alright," I say, wiping my eyes dry.

"Why were you kissing?" the boy asks us.

"Well," says Leo. "We were kissing because we love each other very much. Do you know how your mommy and daddy love each other?" The boy nods. "Well, it's the same with us. Except for a boy and a girl, it's two boys. But you should know that it's okay for two people, no matter if they're two boys, two girls, or a boy and a girl, that love each other to be together."

The boy stares at Leo, his eyes looking like they're sparkling. "Wow!" He looks at his mother. "Mommy! Can I be like that too someday?"

The woman smiles at her son. "Only if you want to be when you're older, sweetie." She looks at us. "Thank you for explaining that to him. I would have messed up telling him what being gay means."

"No problem," says Leo.

The woman and her son walk out of the park, leaving Leo and me to watch the rest of the people on the playground, hand in hand.


Leo, my parents, Leo's parents, and I all head out to dinner that night to celebrate our college acceptances. When we tell the guys the next day that Leo and I are going to college together, they take us out to lunch to celebrate. It's more to celebrate all of us going somewhere in the future. I call Ryan and Nate later and tell them I'm going to their rival school, to which they sing 'Big C,' UC Berkeley's fight song, at the top of their lungs.

Dad decides that, this weekend, he and I are going to drive to Stanford to get a better look at the campus, even though we've seen it thirteen times already. I ask Dad if Leo can come with us, since he hasn't seen the campus yet. He welcomes another travel buddy. What Leo doesn't know yet is that, on road trips, Dad loves to sing classic rock as loud as he can. It's ear splitting at first, but then you find yourself singing 'Bohemian Rhapsody' with him.

Friday after school, Leo and I find Dad sitting in the front of school, ready for the six-hour drive we have. And within five minutes of being on the road, Dad plays his classic rock playlist on his phone and starts belting 'Rock and Roll All Nite.' I expect Leo to be annoyed, but he starts singing with Dad! I can't help but join in the fun.

After hours of Van Halen, The Police, Aerosmith, and about thirty other bands, we get to Stanford later that night and welcome the hotel rooms and beds. Dad stays in a room by himself, leaving Leo and me alone. No, we don't have sex. But we do sleep in the same bed, Leo choosing to hold me in his arms, which feels great.

The next day, Dad and I give Leo a private tour of the campus, showing him all the academic buildings, relaxation areas, sites to see, and everything else Stanford has to offer. "What do you think?" I ask Leo, as we get closer to the end of the tour.

"I love it," he tells me. "This place is beautiful. I can't wait to spend the next four years here with you."

I smile at Leo. "We're here!" Dad calls to us.

Leo and I snap back to reality and standing in front of us is Stanford Stadium, where in four months, I'm going to be a Stanford Cardinal. "Dad, what're we doing here?" I ask.

"I managed to schedule a meeting with someone," he says. "He should be here in a minute."

Leo, Dad, and I stand around for a minute or two before I hear a pair of footsteps coming up from behind Dad. "You must be the Rusden's."

Dad steps to the side and I feel my eyes bulge at who I see. It's Victor Wyatt, the head coach of the Stanford Cardinals! "Yes, we are," says Dad. Dad shakes Mr. Wyatt's hand. "Jacob Rusden, nice to meet you." He gestures to me. "This is my son and your new running back, Josh Rusden."

Mr. Wyatt looks to me and smiles. Victor Wyatt is a man in his late-forties with a kind face, greying blonde hair, a six foot two body like mine, and for his age, looks to still be in good shape. "Josh Rusden," he says. "I've heard a lot about you. It's great to finally meet you."

He holds out his hand and I quickly take it. "T-The pleasure's all mine Mr. Wyatt," I nervously say.

Mr. Wyatt laughs from his gut. "Mr. Wyatt? I haven't been called that in years. Since we're going to be working together next season, call me either Coach Wyatt, or just Coach. Your Majesty works too."

Coach Wyatt is so much nicer than I thought he was to be. "I think I'll call you Coach Wyatt, Your Majesty," I say.

Coach Wyatt laughs from his gut laugh again. "I like you already, Rusden!" He looks to Leo. "Now who're you? Are you a new player?"

"No sir," Leo says. "My name's Leo Trigon. I'm Josh's...friend and I'm going to start attending Stanford in the fall with him."

"Fantastic!" Coach Wyatt says. "Congratulations on your acceptance! But why was there a pause when you said 'friend'?"

Oh shit. I suddenly start sweating. Coach Wyatt looks between me and Leo, who's sweating as much as I am. "C-Coach Wyatt?" I say. He looks to me. "Leo's...not really my friend. He's actually...my boyfriend."

Surprise fills Coach Wyatt's face. He stays silent for a minute, just looking at Leo and me. "P-Please don't kick Josh off the team," Leo begs. "Just because he's gay, doesn't mean he can't play. He's the greatest running back in..."

Coach Wyatt holds his hand up. "Please. I think I've heard enough." My stomach sinks and I start to feel tears burn behind my eyes. Coach Wyatt looks at me. "Josh, I must admit that you are the first football player that I've heard of that's gay to come to Stanford." Coach Wyatt's face slowly smiles. "It'll sure be a hell of a lot different from all the pussy-chasers I've had for the last fifteen years."

He extends his hand to me for the second time, which I take again, but much more slowly. "Y-You don't care I'm gay?" I ask.

"Why would I? I have a brother that's gay and he's was a fantastic athlete when he was in college. I don't look at a person's sexual orientation and say 'oh, because he's gay he must not be able to play.' If someone can play, and play well, they have a spot open on my team."

I smile at Coach Wyatt and give him a second firm handshake. He takes his hand back and looks to Leo. "You're a fit young man. Do you play any sports?"

"Just martial arts," Leo replies.

I Look at Leo. "Martial arts? You never told me you did them."

"Have you ever wondered how my dad stays in great shape? He's been doing martial arts since he was seven years old and is pretty damn good at it. I started learning when I was four after I asked him and I still practice to this day."

"Stanford has several clubs centered around martial arts," says Coach Wyatt. "You could join one of them." Leo slowly grins at the notion. "Well, that was a nice introduction. How's about I show you around the stadium?"

Coach Wyatt leads Leo, Dad, and me through every inch of the stadium. We see the locker rooms, where the coaches meet and talk, everywhere. This seems too good to be true, but I don't see George Washington or Lady Gaga, so I'm awake. Coach Wyatt leads us down one final hallway and I see sunlight again. We walk out and I'm in complete shock.

We're standing on the Stanford Stadium field! I've only ever dreamed of standing here, and now I finally am. I'm going to be playing here...

"Hey Coach!"

I look over and for the second time today, my eyes feel like they're going to pop out of my head. Walking toward Coach Wyatt is the Stanford football team! All of them are wearing warm-up gear and cleats. And standing at the front is the starting quarterback for next season: Ashton Newel. "Boys, what're you doing here?" asks Coach Wyatt.

"We figured we'd hang around the field and toss the ball around for a little while," says Ashton. "We got permission from Coach Bayar before we came down here."

Coach Bayer is the Stanford offensive coordinator. "Alright," says Coach Wyatt, almost sounding disappointed. "Guess I can't make you run suicides for using the field without permission..."

The team gets a small chuckle out of that, but both they and I both know he would've made them run. Ashton looks at me. "What's up, man?" he says.

"H-Hey," I reply.

Coach Wyatt slaps his hand on my back, the slap making my skin sting. "Boys!" Coach yells. "This here is Josh Rusden! He's going to be a new addition to the team next year and I know he's going to do great things! He's the best running back Southern California has to offer and I hope you all welcome him to the team!"

"Yes Coach!" the team responds.

Wow, I already feel welcomed. "Who's the other guy, Coach?" someone calls.

Coach Wyatt glances at Leo. "That there's Leo Trigon! He's a friend of Josh's who was also accepted into our fine university! I hope you also make him feel at home, despite him not being on the team!"

"Yes Coach!" the team replies a second time.

"So Josh," says Ashton. "Since you're starting with us next season, I think we deserve to know a little about you."

"Um...okay," I say. "What do you want to know?"

"You got a girl back home?!" someone calls out.

This causes a few whoops and hollers from the team, many of which are smiling. I glance at Coach Wyatt, who only shrugs a bit, as if to say 'You can tell them if you want. But I don't know how they'll react.'

I look back to the forty guys standing in front of me. "No, I don't have a girl back home." Many of them let out an 'aww' at that. "I have a guy coming to school with me here who I've been dating for five months now."

Many of the faces I look at register what I've just said with shock. "You're gay?" Ashton asks, his face blank.

"Yeah," I say.

There are a few glances and the crowd of large football players suddenly parts. Coming down the opening are five players, all of their faces seething. I recognize them as Lance Orion, Jordan Franks, Kelvin Thomas, Casey Barker, and Nick Anders, all defensive linesmen, all of them huge. "There's no way I'm playing on a team with a faggot," says Casey.

"He'll probably try and steal my underwear when I'm not looking," says Kelvin.

"I don't want him staring at my junk when I'm in the shower," says Lance.

"Please," I say. "Like I'd want to see you trying to wash that pencil dick of yours."

There are a few laughs and Lance grabs me by the front of my shirt, letting out a hot, nasty smelling breath that hits me like a train. Coach Wyatt starts to charge over to us, but someone else pushes Lance away from me. "Back the fuck off Lance," says Ashton. "He's gay. So what? If Coach acknowledges him, then I acknowledge him too. He must be good for Coach to praise him that much."

"But he's a fucking cocksucker!" screams Jordan.

"Shut the fuck up Jordan," says another player. Out from the crowd walks Michael Smith, a fellow running back. He walks over to Ashton and me. "If this kid is as good as I hear, he's okay in my book. Besides, he made me laugh with that pencil dick comment. I knew we'd get along great after I heard that."

I look over at Michael, who smiles at me. "Us running backs got to stick together," he says.

He offers me a fist and I pound it. All of a sudden, other players start to walk over to Ashton, Michael, and me. "I have two dads," says Davis Buxton, a center. "They're just as masculine as anyone else and they're great people."

"My sister's gay," says Ian Waters, a receiver. "Her partner is one of the most awesome people I've ever met."

"My grandpa has been out for decades," says Diego Flores, a middle linebacker. "He taught me to love everyone no matter who they are or where they came from. I still believe that to this day."

Thirty-five guys are now standing around me, staring down the last five players, who all seem twice as surprised as before. "Why're you all siding with that faggot?!" yells Nick.

"He'll only bring the team down with his homo genes!" screams Casey.

"Really?" I call back. "Do you really think I'll bring this team down just because I'm gay?"

"Shut the fuck up, faggot!" yells Jordan.

I look back at the rest of the team. "Which one of you has that football you mentioned?" A ball flies over everyone's heads and I catch it and look back to the other five. "Tell you what. Let's have a little contest to see if I'll really bring this team down."

"What're you doing, Rusden?" says Ashton.

"Trust me. I know what I'm doing." I face the bigots one more time. "See this ball? If I can make it from one end of the field to the other without being tackled by any of you, then you all are going to accept that I'm gay and welcome me to the team."

"What happens if we do tackle you?" asks Kelvin.

"Then I'll quit the team."

From behind me, I hear a lot of negative reactions from what I'm risking. I look at Dad, Leo, and Coach Wyatt. Dad looks like he's going to pass out from just the thought of having to pay tuition. Leo's focused on me, his eyes never leaving me. Coach Wyatt looks incredibly pissed off at the five players, but doesn't move an inch. "What do you say?" I ask.

The players huddle for a few second before looking back at me. "We'll do it," says Lance. "Say goodbye to the Cardinals, faggot."

"We'll see about that," I say. I walk out onto the field and see the five players walking out with me. "I'll be in the opposite end zone and start whenever I want. You five will stand twenty yards apart, ready for me. If I get past you, you can't chase after me. You can move however you like when I start moving, or you can face me one on one. Got it?"

They all nod. "Pick where you want to start," I say. "I'll be waiting."

I start to walk to the end zone when I realize, I'm not wearing any cleats. The five players all are wearing cleats, so I'm at a disadvantage. "Rusden!" I look over and see Michael running over toward me. "You're going to need these."

In his hands I see a pair of cleats and socks. "Wow, thanks Michael," I say.

I quickly take off my shoes and socks and put on the athletic shoes and socks, the shoes a perfect fit. "Kick some ass," says Michael.

"I plan on it.

Michael runs off the field with my shoes and socks and I make it to the end zone. I look at the field and see Jordan, Casey, Kelvin, Nick, and Lance, all of them twenty yards apart, looking ready to kill. "You assholes ready?" I call.

They all suddenly look twice as pissed off, which I smirk at. I take a few seconds to stretch out my legs and look at the sideline. Along with the team, Dad, Coach Wyatt, and Leo are all standing there, focused on me. I jump up and down a few times to psych myself up and look at the field. Let's go!

I charge out of the end zone and the defensemen ready themselves. First up is Jordan, who's easily four inches and fifty pounds heavier than me. I get close to him and he reaches his arm out to grab me, so I fake to the left and go right, Jordan falling for it completely. I make it past him and hear a few cheers from the sideline.

Next is Kelvin. He's only a little taller than me and about ten pounds heavier, so I know I can take him head on. I get to him and as he gets close, I hold my free arm out and stiff-arm him. He's strong, but I'm stronger. I hold out and Kelvin falls to the ground. Two down, three to go.

Third one is Casey. He's gigantic. Six foot nine, two hundred-eighty pounds of muscle. He runs at me full speed and I know I only have one chance to get past him. As his arms start to come down on me, I quickly spin to my left and escape his tree trunk arms. He misses me entirely, letting out a large grunt as his arms come down and grab air.

The cheers from the sideline get louder, but I tune them out. My legs are starting to hurt and my lungs crave oxygen, but I suck down the pain and just breathe. I charge at the second twenty-yard line and ready myself for my next obstacle: Nick.

Nick is only two or three inches taller than me, but he's as strong as an ox. I know I can't beat him with strength, but all that muscle can really slow someone down. I dart to the right and Nick tries to catch up to me, but with the extra weight, he doesn't reach me in time. I blow past him without him even touching me.

Twenty yards to go and only one guy left between me and a spot on the Cardinals. Lance is easily six foot six, two hundred fifty pounds, every bit of it muscle. But I know that Lance isn't the least bit slow and with all that muscle, I can't try and stiff-arm a second time. "Just you and me, faggot!" Lance screams. "When you lose, I'll let you suck my dick!"

"Fuck you and your pencil dick, Lance!" I shout back.

Lance charges at me and dives straight for my mid-section, arms out, ready for the takedown. I realize I'm too close to try and get around him, and I'm going too fast to stop. Oh fuck...I can't escape...

Just as I feel like it's over, I see one chance. Lance is barely a yard away from me, so I jump with all my power. When I think Lance is going to catch my foot, it doesn't. I look down and see Lance sailing right under me. I hear him hit the ground and I bring my feet back down, landing perfectly on the other side of Lance.

With a final surge of strength, I run the last few yards and careen into the end zone. I slow myself down and scream the most adrenaline-filled scream of my life. Gasp after gasp enters and leaves my throat and lines of sweat slide down my face. I look up and see five tons of muscle and skin sprinting at me. As much as I want to move out of the way, I grin and let the team tackle me.

Ashton and Michael get to me first and crash into me, laughing and hugging me. "That was awesome, Rusden!" screams Ashton.

"Looks like I got some competition!" says Michael.

The rest of the team crowds around me, high-fiving and slapping me on the back. Dad, Leo, and Coach Wyatt walk over and circle around me as well. "HEY!!"

The noise level dies down and I see the five defensemen, walking over to me. I notice Lance is hanging toward the back, so I look to Jordan, Nick, Kelvin, and Casey. "So, am I still that faggot you called me earlier?" I spit at them.

The four guys in the front suddenly look incredibly regretful. "Look Rusden," says Kelvin. "I'm sorry for the way I initially reacted. I guess...I just wasn't used to the idea of having a gay teammate."

"Same here," says Jordan. "Sorry Rusden. The whole gay thing kind of freaked me out and I just started screaming things I didn't mean."

"You're an awesome running back," says Casey. "I don't even think Michael could run like that."

"I'm sorry too Rusden," says Nick. "I was actually pretty scared when I heard you were gay and thought you'd try and come on to me. But then I thought 'if a gay guy wants me, then I'm a fucking catch.'"

"You wish," I say.

The team and the defensemen laugh and Nick punches me in the shoulder, him laughing as well. "WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU GUYS DOING?!!"

I look past everyone and see Lance, his face dark red with anger. "The kid's a fucking faggot!" he screams. "Why're you acting so buddy-buddy with him?!"

So Lance isn't just intimidated by a guy person. I can see the hate in his eyes. He fully despises them. "Enough Lance," says Ashton. "Rusden here won the bet and is now part of this team, whether you like it or not."

Lance quickly starts looking madder and madder. I even see veins popping out of his head and neck. He takes an intimidating step toward me and when it looks like the team is about to help me, someone steps in my way, someone with five piercings in his ears, jet black hair, and who looks just as sexy from the back than he does from the front. "Leo!" I say.

"I got this Josh," he says, not looking back at me. "I've heard enough come out of this jackass's mouth. He needs to be taught a lesson..."

Leo walks over to Lance and stand in front of him, not backing down despite the seven-inch height difference. "What the fuck are you doing?" Lance asks Leo.

"Getting ready to beat the shit out of a bigot." Lance face turns even redder and Leo looks back to Coach Wyatt. "Coach Wyatt! How much damage can I do to this guy here?"

Coach Wyatt thinks about it for a second. "After everything I've heard him say, go all out! No broken bones or dislocations though!"

"No problem! This motherfucker will be down in less than a minute!"

That sets Lance off. He balls his fist and goes straight for the back of Leo's head. Just as I'm about to call to Leo, he spins around and avoids the fist. He kicks his right leg and goes right for Lance's mid-section. Leo kicks Lance hard in the side, forcing the air out of his lungs. Lance tries to punch Leo again, but Leo jumps back and does a full back handspring away.

Lance tries to charge at Leo, but Leo ducks down and gets close to Lance, letting out a barrage of punches that hit Lance in the chest and stomach. He spins around Lance and I see him extend his elbow and force it into Lance's kidney. God, Lance must be in so much pain right now.

He tries to spin around and grab Leo again, but Leo gets away a second time. Lance lets out a testosterone filled scream and runs at Leo, who looks ready for whatever Lance is going to do.

Leo jumps up and tucks his body in. And out of nowhere, he spins his body around and brings his legs with him. Leo's foot collides into Lance's jaw and Lance collapses like a sack of potatoes. We all, including Dad and Coach Wyatt, all make pained noises at what we just saw. A huge round of applause and cheers quickly follows it.

Lance is out cold and Leo stares down at his body for a second before he kneels down and smacks his hands across Lance's face. Lance wakes up, but looks to be in too much pain to move. "You really think gay people are weak and worthless?" Leo asks Lance.

Lance lets out a groan and Leo kneels down next to him. "Because one that's a fifth degree black belt in karate, won the Junior Maryland Kickboxing Championship two years in a row, and has been practicing Muay Thai for the last three years, just kicked your ass."

Leo walks away from Lance and over to me. He grabs me by the sides of my head and kisses me hard. I grab him by the waist and kiss him back and hear the team cheering around us. I pull away from Leo and smile at him. "So is that what's going to happen if I ever make you mad?" I ask.

"That's what would happen if you ever stand me up for a date," Leo tells me. "If you actually make me mad, you'd wish you were dead. I'll kick your ass worse than Creswell did those skinheads. Combined."

"Noted." I give Leo another kiss and keep my arm around his waist. "Guys, this is my boyfriend Leo Trigon. He's mine and mine alone. So if any of you ever go gay and try to make a move on him, I'll beat your ass so hard, you'll think you'd want to go to UC Berkeley."

All the guys boo at just me saying the name of Berkeley. "Fuck that!" someone screams.

All the guys start screaming 'Stanford!' as loud as they can. There's a suddenly loud whistle blow, quieting everyone down. I see Coach Wyatt walking over to us, more specifically to me. "Rusden, what I saw out there was phenomenal," he says. "I'm sorry for the way Lance the some of the guys treated you. If Jordan, Nick, Kelvin, and Casey hadn't apologized, they'd be running five suicides right now."

The four players in question shudder at the thought of running five field-long suicides. "It's okay Coach Wyatt," I say. "So...what're you going to do about Lance?"

We all look at Lance, who's still writhing in pain. "He'll be on the bench at the start of next season," Coach Wyatt says. "He's a decent cornerback, but he'll need to change his attitude if he wants to get back on this field."

I smile at Coach Wyatt and glance at the team around me. I feel a hand on my shoulder and see Dad standing next to me. "So what're you thinking right now?" he asks.

"I feel...like I'm home," I say. "It feels like I'm going to fit in here."

"You already fit in here Rusden" says Coach Wyatt. "You too, Leo. These guys have already welcomed you to their family. Our family. Welcome to Stanford"

The team cheers the loudest they have yet and out of nowhere, someone starts chanting 'Come Join the Band,' Stanford's fight song. We're all screaming it within a second, Leo and me surrounded by our new family.



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